The Truth About Heaven and Hell
We have been taught from the time we were little children that the good people go to heaven and the wicked people go to hell. Those who go to heaven when they die are rejoined with loved ones. This teaching means we will never die. We have been told that hell is terrible, a place of eternal torment. There is fire there and people in hell burn forever and never die. The devil and his angels are there to torment those in hell day and night forever and ever. Hence, they never really die, but continue to live on and on and on. Some have claimed there is a spiritual prison in which all the dead are held under bondage until judgment. This, too, is a doctrine teaching that we will never die. It is a spiritual lie that cannot be proven true by the holy word of God.
What does the God of the Bible say? Does the spirit live on after death (Matt 21:44)? The word of God says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:20). Yes, the soul can die. We are also instructed not to fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul. Instead, we are told to fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt. 10:28). So now we can see that souls can be killed by God. The Bible calls this the second death (Rev. 20:14; 21:8).
People are subtly persuaded to believe they don’t really die. They are told they return to their angelic state when they die. Many who have fallen for this lie remain ignorant of God’s word.
What does God’s true word say about what happens when you die? Your death is a sleep. All will be resurrected in the end. Did you hear? In the end! You do not go to heaven when you die. You sleep! Your spirit returns to God who gave it, but so does the sparrow’s spirit (Eccl. 12:7). God takes His Spirit away and you return to the dust. He sends forth His Spirit and you come alive again (Psalm 104:29-30; Ezek. 37:4-14). You cannot praise God in the grave because you cannot speak. God, who is true, says, in the very day you die, your thoughts perish (Eccl. 9:5, 10). The death of people is the same as animals ( Eccl. 3:19-20).
So a man lies down and dies and does not rise until the heavens be no more (Job 14:12). The dead do not rise until when? Until the heavens be no more. That’s at the end of the age, at the return of Jesus Christ. The dead people will not rise nor be aroused out of their sleep. Job said he was going to wait in the grave until God called him and gave him a new body at the time of the resurrection (Job 14:14-15).
When a man’s spirit departs, the word of God says, he returns to the earth, and in that very day, his thoughts perish. Do you believe God’s word (Psalm 146:4; 112:10)? The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down to silence (Psalm 115:17). At one point in time the dead are symbolically given white robes and told to rest for a little while longer (Rev. 6:9-10). This indicates they are resting now. These words are not cleverly devised tales (2 Peter 1:16).
Jesus says that an hour is coming when all who are in the graves—not in heaven—shall hear His voice, and those who did the good works shall come forth to a resurrection of life (John 5:28-29; Rom. 2:7). Even King David, a man after God’s own heart, did not ascend to heaven (Acts 2:34). He is still in the grave, just as Jesus Christ said (Acts 2:29). No man has ascended to heaven. Now, Jesus wouldn’t lie, would He (John 3:13)? Only those who persevere in doing good will receive immortality or eternal life (Rom. 2:7).
The Truth About Hell
When Jesus Christ returns, He will create a lake of fire, which will be located in Jerusalem (Is. 31:9). The location could very well be in the valley of Gehenna, which is now a public park. The word Gehenna means hell.
The first customer of the lake of fire will be the beast who has masqueraded as the returned Christ and given himself all the titles of Christ. This is the one whom the whole world will worship before Jesus Christ returns to the earth (Rev. 13:8). The second customer will be a man who made a statue in the likeness of this false christ and required everyone in the world to fall down and worship that statue or be put to death (Rev. 13:11-17). This religious deception is caused by God. All those who refuse the message of God’s simple truth so as to be saved will believe the false christ (2 Thess. 2:10-12; Rev. 17:17).
Then, anyone who is not found in the book of eternal life will be cast into that same fire started by Jesus Christ at His return (Rev. 20:12-15). All whose deeds were righteous before God will be spared (Matt. 18:35; 15:8). But all whose deeds remained wicked and unrepentant will be destroyed, including those who do not practice righteousness for God or love their brother (1 John 3:10). They will be burned at the end of the age in the lake of fire and as they are burned, they will weep and gnash their teeth (Matt. 13:40-42). They will be totally destroyed forever—destroyed never to return again (Rev. 21:8; 2 Peter 3:7). They will be set ablaze and turned to ashes (Mal. 4:1-3). Remember, the word death means cessation of life or end. Eternal punishment is the end of spiritual life—the second death (Matt. 25:46).
Satan will also be thrown into the lake of fire at a later time. “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:10—Notice, in many translations of the Bible, the word “are” is substituted for the original word “were”—past tense). The expression day and night forever is an extravagant way of saying for good, or forever.
When trying to understand hell, many people are confused about the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. This was a parable—a riddle, an example—not an actuality. The rich man was being slowly burned with fire and was very thirsty. Lazarus was immortal. Now, since the rich man was mortal, there was a bridge between them. Lazarus was spiritual and the rich man was flesh. That bridge could not be crossed over by Lazarus (Luke 16:24). This parable emphasizes the importance of living for God now, while we have the opportunity. There is no second chance.
The Truth About Heaven
People believe their loved ones have gone to heaven already. What about Moses and Elijah in Matthew 17:4? That was a vision (Matt. 17:9). What about Paul? He didn’t know how he ascended, so how could you (2 Cor. 12:2)? He said only God knew what happened. It could have been a vision.
What about Enoch? God took His Spirit out of Enoch’s body. Then God put Enoch’s spirit to sleep until the resurrection (Heb. 11:5). Remember, Jesus Christ was the first born of many brethren (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:23). It is appointed once for all men to die, then comes the judgment (Heb. 9:27). Enoch is waiting to be born again (Heb. 11:39-40). God hid Enoch’s body, just as He hid Moses’ body, so men couldn’t build a building over it and use it to their advantage to further their own religions. The devil wanted Moses’ body to further his religious deception on this earth, and he argued with Michael for it (Jude 9). But God hid it from sight on Mount Nebo about 80 miles west of Jerusalem.
What about Elijah? Approximately 12 years after Elijah was taken up in a chariot, he sent a letter to King Jehoram of Israel (2 Chron. 21:12-15). Remember, there are no thoughts in the grave, so if he died he could not have written the letter (Psalm 6:5). Elijah was still alive, but living elsewhere on this earth. He went into retirement.
When Jesus was crucified, He died. If he didn’t die, then He lied. And if He died according to the Scripture, which cannot be broken, he had no thoughts in the grave. He went to sleep for three days and three nights. Jesus did not preach to the dead spirits of mortal men in prison. He had no thoughts in the grave. First Peter 3:18-19 says nothing about Jesus Christ preaching to somebody while He was in the grave. He had plenty of time to do that after He was resurrected and had a spiritual body. Incidentally, the “spirits now in prison” were the fallen angels of Jude 6, not dead humans.
People in the churches have been lied to and most refuse to study their Bibles and ask God to show them His truth. They are afraid they might have to give up some cherished belief. They would rather put their trust in some man, even though the word of God continually warns them not to do that (Psalm 146:3; Is. 2:22). The Bible is not a private interpretation, but men from all ages have been moved by the Holy Spirit to write the words of God (2 Peter 1:20-21). God places a special curse on anyone who tampers with His words (Rev. 22:19).
True disciples of Jesus Christ are warned not to be uninformed about those who are asleep (1 Thess. 4:13-17; 5:10). God does not want us to grieve, thinking we have no hope. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the trumpet of God. And those who died in Jesus Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
Have you heard something different? Behold, I tell you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:51). When? At the last trumpet. When does the Bible say the last trumpet is (Rev. 11:15)? The trumpet will sound and the dead in Christ will be raised imperishable and we will be changed (1 Cor. 15:52).
Many who profess to be followers of Christ are far removed from God’s true form of spiritual worship (John 4:24; Rom. 12:1; James 1:27; Psalm 37:27). The spiritual leaders of this world are leading people astray (Is. 3:12). Preachers are preaching on their own authority. God says He did not send them (Jer. 23:1, 11, 13-22). People love their false ministers, but what will they do in the end (2 Tim. 4:3-4; Jer 5:31)?
We are admonished to prove all things by God’s word and to believe in only those things that can withstand the sure test of those Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15). By knowing these truths, at least you have a choice about whether to stay deceived or not.
Read your Bible and come out of religious deception once and for all! Seek the truth and it will set you free from being religiously misled (John 8:32). The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him. But if you forsake Him, He will forsake you forever (1 Chron. 28:9).